Indie Cloud Providers Answer Small MSPs' Pressing Questions

It’s a hyperscaler world, which often edges out small channel partners. But there are alternatives.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

March 16, 2022

5 Min Read
Cloud Questions

There’s no escaping the hyperscalers – Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud – in a cloud world. But many a smaller managed services provider has felt overlooked by the big three. The situation is not unlike the Ma Bell years decades ago, before deregulation. The giants ruled the telecom world — until competition opened and CLECs and independent providers gained a foothold, giving smaller channel partners a fighting chance at profiting.

The hyperscalers have ruled the cloud sector, and that’s not going to change. However, independent cloud providers have come into their own over the past couple of years and offer MSPs new ways to do multicloud for customers. Their partner programs tend to contain fewer requirements and less investment than AWS, Azure and Google, making participation affordable and obtainable. They also tend to offer more favorable pricing, such as including bandwidth in their packages.

Even so, small MSPs might not yet be as familiar with the independent cloud vendors as they should be. That’s why the MSP Summit, co-located with the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 11-14, in Las Vegas, will feature a session with two of those companies – Linode and Vultr, part of The Constant Company – and an MSP that knows the ins and outs. “Cloud Alternatives For Small MSPs, Or Who Cares About The Little Guy” will take place on Monday, April 11, at 11:25 a.m. It will feature Blair Lyon, vice president of cloud experience at Linode; Shane Zide, global vice president of channel for Vultr, part of The Constant Company; and Robert Jacobi, director of WordPress for MSP Cloudways. In this edited Q&A, Lyon, Zide and Jacobi share what MSPs need to know prior to attending the panel.

Channel Futures: Hyperscalers and smaller providers have obviously been around for a while. That raises the question: Why is now the ideal time for this particular panel?


Linode’s Blair Lyon

Blair Lyon: The rise of alternative cloud providers … is driven partly by a realization that AWS and other hyperscalers can’t be relied upon a as a sole provider; users need and want a multicloud strategy. … Cloud service providers that embrace open source and open APIs reduce lock-in and give their customers the freedom to move applications and data where they need to be to best serve their customers. … Cloud computing has reached a tipping point where the core cloud primitives of compute, storage, and networking are relatively commoditized. This opens the door to alternatives.

See and hear more than 100 top speakers at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo/MSP Summit. Register now to join 6,500 fellow attendees, April 11-14. You can also interact with more than 300 key suppliers and technology service distributors.


Vultr’s Shane Vide

Shane Zide: In the last year-and-a-half, MSPs have started to realize that having a multicloud strategy doesn’t mean just having to pick two of the big three. You can pick one of the independent cloud providers. … There’s never been a better time for someone to reduce cost.

Robert Jacobi: It’s hard to break through the noise and nature of the big three (AWS, Azure, GCP). With independent cloud providers, we see levels of support and communication that are not only cost-effective but easier to access. It’s key for decision makers to have visibility into this marketplace for the added value and unique offerings available.

CF: What two or three key takeaways do you want attendees to get from this session?

BL: Smart multicloud strategies include at least one alternative cloud provider. … The days of having to default to AWS are over, and the future is bright with greater portability, choice, ownership and control.

SZ: I think for a lot of years the barriers and upfront costs were so great that they deterred MSPs from making this move. … With the alternative cloud providers, you can actually profit right now without any of those barriers, like being $50,000-$75,000 in on certifications and marketing costs. We’re not asking you to replace …

… your entire hyperscaler business … we’re another tool in the tool belt.


Cloudways’ Robert Jacobi

RJ: Price does not equal value. A successful independent marketplace helps everyone.

CF: What benefits do independent cloud providers extend to MSPs that the hyperscalers do not/cannot?

BL: The elimination of roadblocks to success that disproportionately impact small and midmarket resellers. These roadblocks – often found in the partner programs run by hyperscale cloud providers – include quotas, penalties and proprietary services that compete directly with their partners.

SZ: The hyperscalers are overpriced, overcomplicated and they might end up competing with you.  If you’re a channel partner, you are most likely locked out of the big three cloud program penthouse due to heavy barriers of entry with costly certifications and marketing expenses.

RJ: This isn’t complicated. In general, the ability to have a human at your fingertips without complicated pricing schemes is a great benefit. Additionally, independent cloud providers can support unique business solutions and geographies.

CF: What other considerations should MSP attendees have in mind as they come into this panel?

BL: Bring your questions to challenge us so you can better understand why partnering with alternative cloud providers can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

SZ: Walk in there thinking, “Why haven’t I done this before? What were the inhibitors?” Learn how other MSPs have done this. Walk out saying, “This is possible now.”

RJ: Partnering with independent cloud providers is a great way to augment what you may already be doing with the big three for the benefits of higher touch support and geographies.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Kelly Teal or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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